As LA considers pot shop ban, raids continue

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Visitors to the LAPD’s Topanga Station were treated to the pungent smell of marijuana as they walked through the front door Wednesday afternoon.“The fragrance of this marijuana is overpowering,” L.A. City Councilman Dennis Zine said as he warned a reporter to keep his hands off the pot.

Sixty-five pounds of cannabis were on display after police raided two marijuana dispensaries and a residence Tuesday. Police showed off big bags and smaller glass jars of marijuana, each meticulously weighed and labeled. Marijuana joints were marked one for $5 and three for $12 and laid out like cigarettes in a tin box.

Narcotics detectives shut down Green Magic and Green Joy pot shops in Ventura Boulevard after determining they were operating illegally. Police seized $50,000 and arrested three people, but are still looking for the owners.

Under California law, only nonprofit collectives operated by primary caregivers may grow and provide medical marijuana to patients with a doctor’s recommendation.

“This is a far cry from what the voters approved in 1996 in the Compassionate Use Act,” Zine said. “This is a profit-making enterprise and all they’re doing is making money.”

LAPD Capt. Tom Brascia said 25 to 30 pot shops operate in his area around Canoga Park, fewer than in some other parts of the city, like Venice. He said he’s been receiving more complaints from neighbors about people smoking marijuana around the shops and loitering.

“I think the citizens were very tolerant of quote, unquote medical marijuana for quite a while.” Brascia said. “I find that the residents are losing that tolerance now.”

In the coming weeks, the L.A. City Council will consider an ordinance that would prohibit medical marijuana dispensaries. State courts have issued conflicting rulings on whether cities can ban or regulate pot shops. Hundreds operate in the city. The California Supreme Court takes up the issues in a few months.

Supporters of an outright ban have said many of the pot shops sell to minors and attract crime. Opponents have said they are necessary to provide access to sick people who cannot grow marijuana themselves.

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